Total Knee Replacement Rehabilitation

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What is knee replacement rehabilitation?

Picture of a knee replacement components

Knee replacement rehabilitation (rehab) is a series of exercises you do after your surgery. This helps you get back your knee's range of motion and strength. You will work with your doctor and physiotherapist to plan this exercise program. To get the best results, you need to do the exercises correctly and as often and as long as your doctor or physiotherapist tells you.

Before you start any exercises, talk with your doctor or physiotherapist. It is important that you know exactly how to do the exercises. Stop and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are not sure you are doing the exercises correctly or if you have any pain. Ice your knee after exercising if it is sore.

Exercises after surgery

These exercises can be done right after your surgery. You can do them in your hospital bed. Talk to your doctor before you start any of these exercises. He or she may tell you to do them in a certain way. You may need to do them several times each day. When you first do them, they may hurt. Your knee may click or pop. But these exercises will help you recover and may help your pain go away faster.

Quad sets

  • Lie or sit on your bed.
  • Tighten the thigh muscle of your affected leg.
  • Hold for about 6 seconds, then rest up to 10 seconds.
  • Relax your thigh and knee.
  • Do 8 to 10 repetitions several times during the day.

Straight leg raises

  • Lie or sit on your bed.
  • Tighten the thigh muscle of your affected leg, and keep the knee straight.
  • Lift your leg 8 to 10 centimetres, and hold it for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Slowly lower your leg.
  • Rest a minute. Repeat 8 to 12 times with each knee. Do this exercise every day, up to 3 times a day.

Ankle pumps

  • Lie or sit on your bed.
  • Tighten the thigh and calf muscles of your affected leg. This will make your foot move up and down.
  • Do this for 2 to 3 minutes, 2 to 3 times an hour.

Quadriceps (thigh) strengthening exercise

  • While sitting in a chair, straighten your leg and hold for 6 seconds. Then lower your leg and rest for up to 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times with each leg. Do every day, up to 3 times a day.
  • When this thigh-strengthening exercise becomes easy, you can add a light weight to your ankle.

Bed knee bends

  • Lie or sit on your bed.
  • Bend your affected knee by sliding your foot toward you. Stop when your knee no longer bends.
  • Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds, and then slide your leg back down the bed.
  • Do this several times.

Later exercises

When you are able to walk on your own for a few steps or a short distance, you can try these exercises. Talk to your doctor before starting any of these exercises. He or she may tell you to do them in a certain way.

Standing knee bends

  • Stand up straight, using a walker or crutches or hold onto something stable, such as a counter.
  • Lift the thigh of your affected leg so that your knee bends.
  • Lift as far as you can, and hold it for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Lower your leg, and touch the floor with your heel first.
  • Do this 8 to 12 times or until your leg feels tired.

Assisted knee bends

  • Lie on your back with your affected knee slightly bent.
  • Loop a towel over your knee, and slide it down so that is against your ankle.
  • Continue to bend your knee, pulling your ankle gently toward you with the towel.
  • Bend your knee as far as you can.
  • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, and then relax your leg.
  • Do this 10 to 12 times or until your leg feels tired.

Adding resistance

About 4 to 6 weeks after surgery, you may be able to do the standing or assisted knee bends with light weights around your ankles. Begin with 0.5 to 1 kilogram weights, and slowly increase the weight as your knee and leg get stronger. Check with your doctor before you make any changes to your exercises.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

Enter Q459 in the search box to learn more about "Total Knee Replacement Rehabilitation."

Current as of: May 23, 2016